Monday, August 31, 2009

Off Focus

Just a little bit.

Sort of slightly off kilter. Partly sleep related. Partly work related. Partly not putting as much effort into maintaining positivity in my life.

I'm taking things for granted just enough to throw me off balance.

So today it's definitely time to take a few minutes to think about the good things in life.

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. Getting home on the train safely after dark
  2. Listening to the crickets chirping when I was walking home tonight.
  3. Seeing Mr. Data Eat
  4. Having dinner with an friend/ex coworker after work
  5. Peace and quiet with my neighbors
  6. Making it up the stairs again after a long day at work
  7. My foot feeling better
  8. My boss telling me she appreciated everything I had done for her while she was sick
  9. Getting to work early today (first time in ages)
  10. Being able to walk from work to the el station
  11. Seeing the sunset during the train ride home
  12. Mr. Dat climbing up on the arm of the couch for attention
  13. Cheesecake Espresso Brownies (hey, i like them, go figure!)
  14. Having less stress at work today because I put in a few hours yesterday
  15. Having my camera.

More Time for Me

I'm up this morning at a hideously early hour. For me at least.

5 am.

Probably a little earlier too. It was around 5 am when I realized I was not going to be falling back asleep and might as well get up and do something other than lay in bed.

Mostly due to that deadly combination of worrying and a crappy diet too late at night.

So I've been going through a mountain of emails, organizing everything into folders as not being able to find things adds to my stress levels. I've had two cups of caffeine and am resigned to having a day where my mind and body are not in sync.

I suppose if I try to look at this positively, I can at least be happy in the fact that I won't be rushing around this morning trying to get things done at the last minute and running late for work like I usually do. It's not intentional (at least not on a conscious level) but I am starting to realize that the lack of organization at home is staring to have repercussions at work, not to mention my emotional healthy.

And it's not like I have a lot to do to get organized in the mornings. Shower, eat breakfast and go.

This is more of an inability to get jump started in motivation because of messiness. Such as I can't find my keys because they're buried under the pile of mail I threw on the loveseat the night before. Or I can't find my CTA Card because I don't remember where I left it the night before. Or just waking up and going straight to my computer because I need to have my internet fix and then realizing I have 20 minutes left in which to get showered, dressed and slap on some makeup before running out the door.

No wonder I'm crabby when I get to work. I'm making me a low priority.

Personally, I am the kind of person who gets stressed about messes but the longer I put it off, the more insurmountable the obstacle becomes to the point where I just don't know where to start. So I simply don't. I pick up here and there, move papers around here and there, and eventually putter out completely. And if left untended too long I find that I start let it trickle over into other areas. I start getting disorganized at work. I start getting sloppy in other areas like eating and quality relaxation time (blogging good, bored internet surfing not so much).

So, I have to change my patterns here. Stop wasting time so there's less hurry up and panic moments. Which means cutting down on the internet time. Or at least setting limitations on how much time I spend.

Less quantity, more quality in other words.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Morning After

Fortunately I have calmed down since yesterday and so far have not even begun to panic about today's upcoming event (lunch with a new book group). I suppose after seeing my fat pictures on the internet and having an out of mind experience from it, everything else pales by comparison. Then after lunch, it's over to work for a few hours and utter chaos to look forward to for the rest of the week.

The utter chaos by the way is a doesn't matter how much i read Dale Carnegie and think positively. It's similar to going into a zoo and thinking positive thoughts that a tiger is not going to bite you if you stick your hand into the enclosure. Sometimes, reality wins hands down over positive thinking.

In fact, it's time to face reality with this weight and picture deal. I am overweight. It's why I've been doing slimfast with a hodgepodge of meals, some healthy, some not. It's why I no longer bring home ice cream as I can deal with a variety of desserts bought home yesterday which are taking up residence in my fridge and have only eaten one of them last night but I cannot bring home a pint of ice cream and have it last more than a few hours.

It's why I've been avoiding way too many things in life because I was using my fat as an excuse. And it's why I've gotten more involved with a lot more activities as I lost some weight and curiously enough stopped obsessing about every bite i was eating in the process.

It's why I sometimes wore the same pair of pants for months(yes, they were washed) because it was all that used to fit me. And it's why 2 months ago, my size 14 relaxed fit jeans were snug and now I can actually pull them off without having to undo the button or zipper.

I've lost a little over 1/3 of my weight loss goal. 40 lbs to go.

So yes, I am overweight. But hiding from pictures isn't going to make that go away. In fact, seeing it may be the motivation I need to stay on this road, no matter how long it takes, until I get to where I need to be.

Which in other words means it's time to confront my fear of fat pictures. The pictures are already out there.

But I did have fun yesterday. All that chocolate and butter and wonderful smells wafting through the air. It might have been too many recipes for me, personally in too short a period of time...we did 5 recipes in 4 hours...Chocolate Caramel Crunch Tart, Cottage Cheese Pufflets, Apple Turnovers, Chocolate Souffle and Espresso Cheesecake Brownies. So my hat is off to the organizer who pulled this all together and kept us all working on something.

What was rather cool was the fact that I think I may be over my fear of whipping egg whites and meringue. I was watching one of the other attendees do that as we were prepping the souffle and I realized it was a lot simpler than I had been amking it out to be. Now granted, i would need to start out with a clean pan but it was basically egg whites and sugar. And considering I have a stand mixer it makes life a lot easier for me. That was it.

Which probably goes to figure that there are other issues out there that may be a lot simpler if i just face them head on.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oh Horrors! Horrors!

There's a fat picture of me on the internet.

Well, fortunately thinner than I was at the beginning of July. And had that picture appeared on the internet, I would have crawled under my computer desk to whimper and hide for the rest of my life. I've been working on dealing with pictures but there's still a LONG road to go. At work it is commonly known you never take a picture of me. I begged my boss to get a fat picture of me (with her at an work event) off her desk or at least let me tape a picture of Cindy Crawford's face over mine.

Which goes to show some clear self acceptance issues I know. We'll get there someday. But today was not that day.

I had been doing some random bored killing time looking around the internet like i do when the White Sox have totally tanked a game and there's nothing good on TV. So for grins and giggles, I swung by the website of the meetup organizers website and saw the blurb about our baking meetup today.

One of those semi-interested "hey, wonder what she wrote about it' thoughts.

And then there was the picture. Pictures. Three of them to be precise.

One of me in a group photo smirking instead of smiling as I always worry about food being stuck in my teeth when I take pictures.

One of me whisking chocolate.

And one of me doing who knows what with a bowl and a few people around me.

If I were a Victorian lady right now I'd be swooning and calling for my smelling salts.

Now from what I remember she says that she has people following her blog from around the world. Which means my fat pictures are out there.

And yes, I get that right now there's not thousands of people spreading the word that there's a self conscious neurotic woman worrying about what people might think of her fat picture. But it's still the knowledge of seeing myself in a picture and not being able to run away from it, stick my head in the sand and pretend.

Today I had to look at myself.

Now I'm pretty sure that if I sent an email to the organizer she'd probably take the pictures of me off the website. And once I have a chance to think about this overnight and calm down, I may or may not do it. I'm too shell shocked right now to make a clear decision that won't make me sound like a complete fruit loop.

Because for one short split second somewhere in the midst of the freak out, I had one lucid glimpse at the picture and thought "Hey, I don't look so bad."

I saw in the picture the weight loss.

Excuse me for a moment while I hyperventilate.

Well Maybe Not

Delayed but not forgotten...the panic attack.

I've bribed myself to get out of the house by promising to buy myself the Dorie Greenspan baking book I've been drooling over.

As long as I pay cash, I figure it's for a good cause.

Assuming I will need to do it once I get there and start having a good time like I did last week and forgot that I had to bribe myself to show up.

And I do know at least 3 of the people so it's not like walking into a room full of strangers (we won't go there yet...that's a panic attack for tomorrow.). And I"m the fourth one. So there's really only 2 strangers after all.

So lets think this through today. There's a few options here to deal with:

1) I don't go. I say "screw the $15.00" and stay home. Granted it's 2 hours before the event but I'm sure if I explained it to the teacher she'd be fine with it. Problem is I don't want to explain that. Not everyone understands social anxiety and I don't want her to see me that way. I don't want anyone to that preconceived notion about me. Based on my previous behavior at outings, I don't think they would have picked it up at all and this kind of thing does change the way we act towards other people.

2) I don't go. I say "screw it" stay home and say nothing to the teacher. Then I sit home brooding about wasted money and feeling cowardly and probably end up at store buying crap food because I'm feeling sorry for myself.

3) So I go. I watch and say nothing. I get to get a cookbook out of this. I still get to come home with treats too even if I watch and don't bake. Win Win situation for me.

4) So I go. I watch and I interact. I get to get a cookbook out of this. I still get to come home with treats and I get to practice my socializing skills.

In a weird way, this does actually give me hope. I'm panicking later at least.

Something Strange is in the Air

So today I have an activity to do with my meetup group. We're baking our way through sections of the books "From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan, author of one of the books I have been trying to convince myself I NEED when I know it's definitely more of want.

And I'm mostly looking forward to it. Which is why something strange is definitely in the air. Normally by this point I'd be in full scale panic mode. And I'm only at half capacity panic. So things are getting a little better with the social anxiety issues.

Although I think I might have used up a great deal of my anxiety last night when I had a full scale panic attack around 11:00 at night worrying how I was going to do all the work I was going to have to do next week and get caught up on the things I'm starting to fall behind on like sending out contracts for events. Which means next week is going to consist of working late pretty much every day which is normal for this time of year with us. And it does pay off for me this year as it usually means I'm too busy to snack.

Although the lack of panic might be because I've been busy this morning and it's usually when I'm resting or doing nothing that my brain goes haywire catching up on all the things I've been too busy to panic about before. I've been up since 7:00, fiddling around with my computer, signing up AT LAST for the baking classes in October which I promised myself I would do as soon as I got paid, and even ran up to the grocery store, upstairs to get my laundry and back downstairs to do a load of a laundry for the first time in weeks all before 9 am because I've been washing things out in the sink to avoid the run to the laundry room since our elevator has been out of order for 7000 years.

At least it seems that way. It's been more like 7 weeks if not a little longer. All summer anyway.

And from what one of my neighbors tells me, we're doomed for ANOTHER SIX WEEKS!!!!!!!

But on the positive side, the elevator being out of commission has I'm convinced helped me lose weight. Not so much from the exercise although I'm sure that's helped. It's been a blessing in disguise because I'm not as tempted to go run out for snacks and sweets as often as I would have. Not to mention the fact that my favorite local chinese restaurant thinks I no longer love them because I hadn't ordered in almost 2 months mostly since I felt too guilty having them climb up all those stairs. And when I get home from work, the last thing I'm up for is another stair workout.

Last but not least, thanks to Jenelle & Andrew for joining my blog! I hope you enjoy the site.

Friday, August 28, 2009


It was pretty much what I expected today. Crazy busy. Chaos where there could have been calmness. No time for lunch. But I have a weekend full of fun activities planned, most of which I have so far not really panicked about doing so that's a good sign.

It was a good day. Not a easy one. But a good one for me. I'm finding my center with people. That means a lot to me.

Slowing Down Long Enough to See

Trying to slow down enough to get my head around the upcoming day.

Fridays are always a busy day at work. We often run around like chickens knowing there's feed somewhere around the yard, pecking everywhere, getting very little done.

I know for some of them this is okay. There's peace for them in doing nothing. And who am I to say that this isn't what's best for them...that maybe this is the level that they are able to work at. I've spent a lot of time worrying about what they aren't doing when my workload is overloaded and I despair of ever getting it done. Or worse, doing a half assed job because I'm not concentrating. Multi-tasking is best done in short bursts of energy, not as a way of life for me.

In these past few months, having finally opened myself up to the world a I've realized that there's so much more to life than what I've settled for. It's as if I've been fumbling around in a dark room, wondering why I can't do anything, upset that there's no light, angry that other people have had light when I haven't.

And all that time, all I had to do was turn on the light myself.

What if for today, I did the best I could do? Not try to save the world at work. And not try to fix them or worry about what they are or aren't doing.

They're not going to change. Not at least because I said they had to or because I think they ought to. From their perspective there's probably lots of things they would change about me.

Today, I'll call a truce. And let them do what they do. I can only fix myself. And the fixing of myself not a one day project. So for today, I'm going to fix myself by taking care of myself and actually take a lunch. Get out of the office, take a walk and sit in the park.

Just be still and watch the world.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Best 15 Minutes in my Day

Most of the time, I waste time.

I sit in front of a computer a lot of nights or mornings before work playing games or checking emails or mindless surfing. In other words, all visually stimulating things. No time for my brain to rest. Just mindless busy work, nothing that satisfies.

Today I laid on the couch and just listened to my house and the world outside. Not a huge amount of time, maybe 15 minutes at best. Ever since Mr. Data's latest episode, I've been more mindfull of taking time to spend with him, realizing that I don't want to miss opportunities that might not come again.

So I laid there, with him curled up by my head and listened to him purr which grew softer as he started to get sleepier. And then, the other sounds became more clear. The rain hitting my windows. The sound of a car driving through the rain. The sounds of my refrigerator apparently having a conversation with the sink pipes. The sound of the elevator repairmen welding something from the basement six floors down. The dull thump of the bass from my downstairs neighbor's stereo.

It was like eavesdropping on the world for a second.

But it was interesting how much calmer I felt after those 15 minutes. No thoughts. No worrying. Just a few minutes of nothing but being still and letting life go on instead.

Best 15 minutes I spent today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Commence Happy Dance

Mr Data is doing better.

I'm so relieved I don't even care about having to start over on my no credit card challenge because I used it to buy ice cream. Or the fact that I ate half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Peach Cobbler Ice cream and that's being overly optimistic...I think I ate closer to 3/4 of the container. I've even forgotten that I was mad at the vet who has always been very good to us and so patient with all of my questions because they couldn't fit us in for a home visit with very little advance notice and I decided that meant she didn't care about us after all.

Well, perhaps that last bit was a little influenced by exhaustion.

Okay, it was very influenced by the fact by the lack of sleep. And now it's officially the entire container of ice cream too. But no matter. Data is better. He's been eating and moving around and he's got that Data spunk back in his eye.

Oh happy dance!

A Stay Quiet and Keep Your Head Down Day

I'm so tired.

Last night, Mr. Data had a bad episode. Based on previous episodes, I think it's related to his dental issues. Because of his health and age (18) his vet and I agreed that we would treat his dental issues with antibiotics rather than putting him through dental surgery. But I always know when we're getting close to the treatment day because his appetite goes off for a day or so before. Fortunately, it's a 5 day treatment once a month because it's fairly traumatizing for both of him. I have to kind of pin him down in a half nelson sort of position just to get the antibiotics in.

I can't blame him. I tried a tiny taste once to see what he was going through and it was pretty nasty. I'm pretty sure someone would have to chase me around the house too to take something like that.

So, last night I was alert to every yodel and the end result was very little sleep. I must have gotten maybe 5 hours which is less than optimal for me. Fortunately, Data seems better today. He got his 2nd day dose of anti's and is eating better today which means he's feeling better overall.

Now I need to keep my head down at work and try to avoid direct communication because I have a bad habit of babbling when I'm exhausted. I rather feel like I'm moving in slow motion today.

Ideally, there's only one successful way to manage a day like today and that's to call in sick. Unfortunately, with everything to do, that is not an option. And my only back up plan is to drink enough caffeine to stimulate my brain which has the tendency to enhance my babbleosity.

I am up the creek without a paddle today for sure.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life with an IBS Kitty

Poor Mr. Data had a rough day yesterday with his IBS so this morning I had turned into crazy hovering cat mom. Did his meow sound off? Is he eating enough? Is he being anti-social? If he using the litterbox too often or too little? Is he sleeping too much? Is he drinking too much?

I'm fairly sure by 8:00 he was glad to see me go so he could get some rest.

At my age, I've come to accept that he's my chosen baby and that a little human me is probably not going to be running around any time soon (fortunately for the little human me too). So like any mom , I worry about him especially since he can't find the words to tell me he's not feeling well. One of his strident meows could mean he's talking to himself or the wall or he's just had an incident on the floor.

Fortunately, he's doing better tonight. It was music to my ears to hear him meow as he came out of his hidey spot when I got home. And he did pretty good with eating tonight. Better, he's not had any litterbox issues since late yesterday so his system is having a chance to rest.

So, today is definitely a blessings sort of day to focus on. I'll trade my stained trashed carpet for more time with a happy healthy Mr. Data any day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Homemade Waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar; set aside. Preheat waffle iron to desired temperature.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.
Ladle the batter into a preheated waffle iron. Cook the waffles until golden and crisp. Serve immediately. Serves 5...

Just What the Doctor Ordered

A quiet, easy, non demanding start to my day by playing one of my foodie computer games and giving scritchies to Mr Data.

Oh and making homemade waffles.

And having to slap my hand to get off of the walmart website before I ordered two cooking books that my meetup baking group is using.

Now technically I do NOT need the books. The meetup leader has the recipes in her book, we follow along and then she's giving us copies of the recipes for our own use if we want to recreate them later. And if worse comes to worse, with internet, I could find copies of most of the recipes floating around if I looked for them.

This is purely a case of cookbook lust. I have a weakness for hardcover cookbooks with glossy pages and shiny color pictures of beautiful food. At one point, I had at least a 100 of them but over the past few years during that dark cooking days of eating junk and ignoring my cookbooks, I've gradually whittled them down to a few dozen of mostly healthy, good for you cookbooks. The rest I either sold on ebay or put downstairs in my apartment lobby for anyone to take as they wanted.

Which of course meant it was perfect timing to rediscover cooking and not the healthy stuff I have access to. What I'm talking about is the baking books, the ones with butter and eggs and vanilla and whipped cream and such. So of course the other healthy cookbooks seem boring by comparison.

Thank goodness for the internet. Although I'm still having to coax myself down off the walmart website each time the visions of those lovely books come floating before my eyes.

Now the waffles are not going to look pretty. That I already know as I ladled too much batter into the waffle iron and I can see some of the batter trying to escape and make it to freedom. Plus, I realized I forgot to oil both sides of the iron so one half is stuck. But it smells delicious. And it tastes delicious, at least the half that I was able to get off the oiled side does. So this is why this is the kind of day that the doctor would have ordered for me. I still have to go to work, but not until around noon (since nobody else is there, I can make my own hours up). But here I am, lazing around, baking waffles, giving scritchies to my cat who has since abandoned me for his favorite nap spot in the bedroom.

All I need now is some classic Bugs Bunny cartoons for the ultimate Sunday morning.

Last but not least, thanks to One Crazy Asian Girl for joining my blog yesterday and to Palidor for her kind compliment!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

When Bread is Way More Than Just Food

These loaves mean the world to me. And not just because I made them or kneaded them or baked them. They're important because they are proof that I can accomplish so many things.

If I give myself the chance. And stop trying to talk myself out of things.

Despite a valiant argument by my pessimistic antisocial side, I got out and made bread today with my meetup group.

I would have shown a picture of the lavash crackers but I'm too busy dipping them in french onion dip and devouring them.

Life is very delicious right now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quiet Thoughts

Quiet thoughts today...I'll have to write in pictures.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hi Wisconsin, Bye Wisconsin

Today's pictures are from my brief dash through Union Station on the way to the megabus stop. Technically no need to stop in at all, but their (US's ) bathrooms are clean and I'm have a thing about using the bathroom on the bus. Hygiene, claustrophobic aspects, the fact that I just have general issues about having to walk past a bus full of strangers all the way to the back to use the bathroom. Nothing logical in other words.

These day trips really wipe me out. I figure between busses and travel time to busses I'm spending about 8 hours travelling for a 5 hour trip. My brain is officially on hiatus until tomorrow, although my last act of conciousness before I got all prideful tomorrow was to ask someone in the office for help with a project. Time to bite the bullet. I cannot do it all. It's okay to ask for help.

Now hopefully I'll still feel this way tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Ultimate Compliment

Someone at the concert tonight described my Italian Knot Cookies as the "Better Than Sex Cookies." How cool is that?

Of course, I had to disagree. Everyone knows that moniker belongs to creme brulee.But still, compliments about my rusty cooking skills are very welcome indeed.

I had a lot of fun it's a little sad that our Wednesday concert series has come to an end. Fortunately, the group itself will continue to meet which is a good thing as I think I could do a lot of growing here. No intimidation factors. But I did realize something tonight. I have become a lazy conversationalist. And by that I mean, I don't ask questions a lot. I don't express interest as much as I should. Sometimes I take a conversational volley and make it about me. And it's not intentional. But it does have a tendency to derail a conversation when I jump in and start talking about me. It's just something I need to work on if I want to progress in socializing more. I was lucky to be sitting with some good people tonight who took the conversational reigns but I was definitely answering more questions than I was asking. Time to get from me to we.

Italian Knot Cookies
5 c Flour
6 tsp baking powder
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
2 tsp anise oil or lemon extract (I used orange)

Cream sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and lemon or anise together. Fold in flour and baking powder. Shape into knots on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Dip in frosting when cooled.

1 lb bag powdered sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp lemon extract
2-3 drops yellow food coloring

Mix together. Very thin frosting. Dip cookies one at a time. Let dry on rack before storing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Frog That Ate Chicago

Technically froggie belongs to rainforest cafe, but I loved the look of how the frog seemed to be hovering over Chicago ready to attack.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Everyone is imperfect

Yesterday, after my shambles of a meatball experiment, I canceled a cooking meetup I had scheduled for tonight. And I had thought making meatballs had to be easy. After all, what was it but mixing meat and some bread and other odds and ends into one round ball and then...well, that's where it fell apart. Turns out that i had no concept of how meatballs were made, whether they were fried or baked. I had no cooking thermometer that went over 220 degrees so I had no idea of whether the oil was hot enough to fry. I worried about bringing undercooked splodgy masses of meat and everyone falling ill. I made substitutions on a recipe I had never tried before. Anyway, it turned out this would not have been a big deal, as I had gotten an email from someone in the group who urged me to come along anyway as they had made plenty of food and told me

I urge you to join us regardless how your recipe turns out. We all screw up in the kitchen every now and then - it's why we experiment in the kitchen!!!Trial and error. Heck, we can all learn from each others mistakes...I bet you'd have some good info to share with us!!

That just knocked me for a loop. First, the fact that someone I didn't even know would reach out to encourage me in my cooking despondency, but also the advice. We all screw up. In the kitchen, in life, in relationships. We all screw up. Period. Even the people who drive me absolutely bonkers at work...they screw up. The people I know vaguely who lead very privileged lives with beautiful homes, who go on these mind blowing vacations that I can only dream about...they screw up. Everyone does. Some just might be better at hiding it than others. I got so caught up in my mistakes, whether at work or home or in the kitchen or wherever, that I forgot about actually learning from my mistakes. For example, like reading through a recipe thoroughly before telling the world that i'm going to make it so I know that I don't have all of the equipment. Or in this case, just accepting that yes, i could still go to this dinner, yes i should go but I won't. Because I'm tired. Because I'm four shades of crazy due to pms. Because after the last few days at work, the thought of being around people just makes me want to go hide under the bed for awhile.

I am still psyched in the end. I tried the greek meatballs recipe. But instead of meatballs, I had greek meatloaf by pureeing the onion/garlic into a soft paste and mixing that in and skipping the milk step altogether. Then i put a layer of fat free feta cheese in between meatloaf layers. Tres yummy. Trial and error works after all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Random Bits of Everything

I am completely exhausted today so I'll just share a few photos in lieu of babbling. Today's pictures are random bits of everything...the walk back from the grocery store, my apartment and a flower down by the lake.